FedRAMP

What is FedRAMP?

The Federal Risk and Authorisation Management Program (FedRAMP) is a US government-wide program that assesses an organization’s cloud services. The program allows for the progression of modern cloud solutions and security protocols within the cloud. The optimization of an organization’s cloud services is vital for securing classified and non-classified federal information.

The management and bodies behind FedRAMP are the Joint Authorization Board (JAB) and the Program Management Office (PMO). Members of JAB include Chief Information Officers (CIOs) from the Departments of General Services Administration, Defense, and Homeland Security.

FedRAMP has one of the most rigorous service software certification processes. Any cloud service that wishes to process, transport, or hold federal information is required to be fully FedRAMP certified before receiving any projects.

FedRAMP allows for the original confidence in an organization’s cloud security capabilities, as well as continual assessment and optimization of these services. This is the only way the government can assure the safeguarding of essential federal data.

Naturally, if an organization becomes FedRAMP certified, it will more likely receive an offer to work for the federal government at some point. Even if this wasn’t the original intent of the organization. FedRAMP certification is highly regarded when it comes to governmental projects and federal data.

Beyond government contracts, having a FedRAMP certification displays trustworthy cloud security to an organization’s clientele.

 

How to become FedRAMP Certified

The requirements for FedRAMP certification are outlined in the US Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 800-53 guidelines.

Authorization of a Commercial Cloud Service Offering (CSO) within a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) is granted through FedRAMP’s Authority to Operate (ATO).

 

FedRAMP Requirements for Compliance

  • A Plan of Action and Milestones (POA&M)
  • Controls that meet FIPS 199 classification standards
  • FedRAMP documentation and Security Pack (SSP)
  • Evaluation by FedRAMP Third Party Assessment Organization (3PAO)
  • Presentation of a Continuous Monitoring (ConMon) program, with regular vulnerability checks
  • Obtain Agency ATO or JAB P-ATO

You may receive FedRAMP compliance either through Joint Authorization Board approval or through an individual agency audit, which grants a cloud service authority to operate.

 

JAB Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO)

With this option, JAB issues an ATO to a cloud service. This is a better solution for medium-to-high-risk CSPs. The JAB P-ATO informs potential federal agencies of the risks and capabilities of a CSP.

The JAB approval is vital but doesn’t grant immediate access to working for the federal government. A federal agency must authorize its own ATO for a CSP that wishes to work for them.

To receive a JAB P-ATO, the CSP must be approved by the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and General Services Administration. 

 

Agency Authorization to Operate (ATO)

The next step for FedRAMP certification is establishing a relationship with the desired federal agency. The agency will grant the ATO if the review is successful and they are content with the level of cloud security within the CSP.

 

The Benefits of FedRAMP Certification

FedRAMP certification not only grants an organization the ability to work with federal agencies but also demonstrates how efficient an organization’s security system is and how the cloud service carefully manages threats.

Certification is cost-effective as processes are optimized for efficiency, leaving less room for error, and therefore no profit is lost to mending minor mistakes.

The evaluation and assessment of a CSP allow for an all-inclusive understanding of an organization’s cloud services, for their own benefit. Where an organization may only see a single unmet standard of cloud security, the FedRAMP process brings to light issues the organization might have overlooked.

An organization’s acquisition of FedRAMP certification greatly reduces any cloud security concerns, but should not stop a CSP from looking for more errors and finding ways to implement automated optimization. This ensures forward compatibility for abiding by cloud service standards. 

The world of cybercrime is constant and ever-growing. An organization cannot truly create a completely secure system. But the world of cyber-security continues to grow as long as every organization makes an active effort to spot threats within their systems.

Risk management and error analysis are our biggest tools when it comes to optimization.

The strength of a cloud service is determined by its weakest link.

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